HESPERUS Early Music Ensemble with Bonnie Rideout on Scottish fiddle
Scottish and Irish music from the earliest written sources. Hear ensemble music in virtuoso performances that highlights music as it migrated across oceans and centuries from pubs to parlors, from renaissance villages to today's Irish pubs! Performed on recorders, Irish whistle, Celtic harp, fiddle, hammered dulcimer, guitar and viols. (65:00 minutes)
The Maggie's Music Early American Music Series now features five award-winning CDs: (flyer)
- A Civil War Scrapbook (MM236)
- An Early American Quilt (MM235)
- Colonial America (MM227)
- Early American Roots (MM216)
- Celtic Roots (MM220)
- Download from
"Hesperus... has another winner in Celtic Roots.( Hesperus won a Wammie (Best Classical Recording) for Early American Roots, the first recording in the "Early American Music" roots series for Maggie's Music records)". - The Washington Post
"As elegant and virtuosic as you'll find… No doubt about it, these people can play!"- Boston Globe
Listen to samples of all tracks
- Jigs: Rural Felicity/ Haste to the Wedding/The Priest in His Boots/Off She Goes (4:01)
- The Reel of Tulloch (3:16)
- March, Strathspey and Reel: MacDonald of the Isles March to Harlaw/The Source of the Spey/ The Periwig (4:05)
- Aileen Aroon (3:35)
- Scotch Hornpipe (Souters of Selkirk) (2:06)
- A Scots Tune/ Gypsie's Lilt (3:11)
- Strike the Gay Harp (Jackson's Night Cap)/ Langstrom's Pony (Farrell's Pipes) (4:01)
- When She Cam Ben, She Bobbit (2:39)
- The Thistle (4:44)
- Gowd On Your Gartens, Marion (2:30)
- Gary Owen (1:18)
- O'Farrell's Welcome to Limerick (2:43)
- Through the Wood, Laddie (3:31)
- The Minstrel of MacDonald's (6:30)
- Old Simon the King (3:25)
- The Highland Laddie (2:53)
- The Highland Laddie: Variations (1:43)
- A New Scotch Tune (2:16)
- Eilionoir a Ruin (2:24)
- Meeting at Strathmore /Lumps of Pudding (3:47)
- The White Cockade/ Soldier's Joy (2:40)
Tina Chancey ~ Treble (6) and bass violas da gamba, fiddle
(1, 21) & recorder.
Grant Herried ~ Lute, theorbo, early guitars and recorder
Scott Reiss ~ Recorders, whistle and hammered dulcimer
With special guests:
Bonnie Rideout ~ Scottish fiddle (3, 9, 14, 16, 17, 20 and 21)
William Taylor ~ Wire harp (clarsach), Gothic "bray" harp
Philippe Varlet ~ Irish fiddle (1, 7 and 12)
In Celtic Roots, we explore the earliest written sources that preserve Scottish and Irish traditional folk music. We also look at the deep connections between that music and the music of England and America.
Traditional music from Scotland and Ireland was first written down in Scottish and English courtly collections for the lute, viol, cittern, and virginal from the early 17th century. During the 18th and into the 19th centuries, the music appears in Irish, Scottish, and American "parlour-ized" versions for keyboard, as well as in collections for traditional instruments such as fiddle and pipes. Many tunes appeared in collections from two or more of the countries, demonstrating an active commerce in the folk music from Scotland and Ireland. Many tunes published in that period are still part of a living repertoire. If you happened upon a music session in a pub in Scotland or Ireland today, you might hear any of the tunes on this recording. They endure not only because they were written down, but because of the living oral tradition that has continued unbroken these three hundred years.
We have included several kinds of tunes in Celtic Roots: traditional tunes from old prints or manuscripts that are still part of the living tradition; pieces that might be placed in the "classical" or art tradition; and pieces that belong more to a genre of 18th- and 19th-century middle-class parlor or drawing room entertainment.
1. Haste to the Wedding (Rural Felicity) / The Priest in His Boots
/ Off She Goes
This set follows Celtic music as it travels between Scotland, Ireland, England and America. "Haste to the Wedding," a jig that appears in both the Atholl Collection (1884) and Ryan's Mammoth Collection (ca.1883), is still known by that title in the Irish tradition today. But in 1801 it was published as "Rural Felicity" in the First Book of Cotillions by John and Benjamin Carr in Philadelphia and Baltimore. We begin with an early American version on hammered dulcimer and guitar. Then Philippe takes us to Ireland with his versions of the three tunes, all still part of the living Irish tradition. "The Priest in His Boots" was first printed in Edinburgh as "The Irish Lilt" in Oswald's Caledonian Companion in 1765, and again in Scotland around 1810 in John Murphy's A Collection of Irish Airs and Jiggs. "Off She Goes" has been popular throughout the British Isles and Ireland since the late 18th century. It was published in England in Thomas Wilson's Companion to the Ballroom (1816) and in America in Riley's Flute Melodies (1814).
2. The Reel of Tulloch
Variation sets featured prominently in 18th century Scots music. "The Reel of Tulloch," originally a bagpipe piece, appeared in the McFarlane manuscript of 1740. This version, originally for fiddle, comes from Robert Bremner's Curious Collection of Scots Tunes (1759). In the 18th-century and modern tradition of borrowing tunes, Scott has made it into a recorder piece. The extraordinary sound of the accompaniment is produced by the combination of viol, lute and "bray" harp. Bill plays a slender gut-strung "gothic" harp with L-shaped pegs known as "bray" pins that hold the strings and also lightly touch them, causing them to buzz when plucked. The bray harp was played in Scotland, England, and Wales from the Renaissance right up to the mid-19th century.
3. MacDonald of the Isles March to Harlaw / Source of the Spey
(Strathspey) / The Periwig (Reel)
The bagpipe was so crucial in the development of traditional Scottish music that other instruments, especially the fiddle which is also capable of adding drones, adopted its repertoire. "MacDonald of the Isles" is a pipe march performed by Bonnie on fiddle. It is followed by a strathspey, the dance form most identified with Scottish traditional music today. "The Source of the Spey" and the reel, "Periwig," are both from the collection of Captain Simon Fraser (1815). Fraser collected tunes from the singing of his father and grandfather, and their friends.
4. Aileen Aroon
Song tunes ("airs") often found their way into instrumental repertoire as in our two versions of the Irish song, "Aileen Aroon" [also see cut 19]. This version is a set of variations for "flute, violin, or harpsichord" set by Burke Thumoth in his Twelve Scotch and Twelve Irish Airs With Variations, ca. 1740. Such 18th century publications transferred the music of oral, mostly rural, and localized traditions to a literate, urban, and cosmopolitan audience. A long shopping list of instruments often appeared on the title page to suggest that the literate amateur use whatever instrument was available. And incidentally, more copies were sold. Tina plays the solo part here on viola da gamba and Grant accompanies her on the theorbo, a long-necked lute with many extra bass strings that was popular in the 17th and 18th centuries.
5. Scotch Hornpipe (Souters of Selkirk)
The tune called the "Scotch Hornpipe" in Henry Playford's Apollo's Banquet (London, 1691) is known as the "Sutters of Selkirk" in Adam Craig's Scottish collection (1730), and the "Souters of Selkirk" by the Northumberland piper William Dixon in his The Master Piper, or Nine Notes that Shook the World (1733).
6. A Scots Tune / Gypsie's Lilt
From the time of the reign of Mary Queen of Scots in the 16th century, there was a strong English component in Scottish music of the upper classes. Lutes, viols and recorders, those quintessentially English instruments, were common. This lute solo simply called "A Scots Tune" from the Straloch Lute Book (1627), imitates the bagpipe. The "Gypsie's Lilt," from the Rowallan Lute Book (ca.1620), is performed here on lute and treble viol.
7. Strike the Gay Harp (Jackson's Night Cap) / Langstrom's Pony
"Strike the Gay Harp" first appeared in print as "Jackson's Night Cap" in an Irish collection entitled "Jackson's Celebrated Irish Tunes," (Dublin 1774). It seems to have remained in the oral tradition as it was recorded in the 1920s by Sligo fiddlers James Morrison and Paddy Sweeney. "Langstrom's Pony" appeared in John and William Neal's Choice Collection of Country Dances (Dublin ca. 1726) and other 17th and 18th century collections under titles such as "Lastrum Pone," and "Lostrum Ponia." We perform Philippe's versions of these still-popular jigs.
8. When she Cam Ben, she Bobbit
"When She Cam Ben, She Bobbit" is a variation set very different from those in cuts 2 and 4. In those, variations sprang from a basic tune. But "When She Cam Ben" is a set of divisions over a ground bass, a bass line implying chords that repeat. This particular ground, the passamezzo antico, is also used for "Greensleeves." The variations at the opening of the piece come from the Bowie manuscript (John McLachlan). Similar versions exist in at least two other Scottish sources. As in today's jazz "changes," ground basses were generally used as improvisation vehicles, so that's what we have done here.
9. The Thistle
A brilliant fusion of folk music and what today we call "classical" occurred in Edinburgh between 1720 and 1745. Known as the "Scots drawing room" style, it was created by a group of composers, each both a classical violinist and a traditional fiddler. These composers used traditional tunes, harmonizing them according to the standards of baroque and gallant writing. Never was there a clearer example of "chamber folk" music! James Oswald's "Thistle" was one of 48 sonatas he published in London in 1755 in Airs for the Four Seasons, each one named for a different flower. The tunes in "The Thistle" are all traditional, but Oswald has arranged them in the ritornello form of the baroque, and harmonized them accordingly. In our performance the lilt and air of baroque style is enhanced by Bonnie's use of Scottish ornaments.
10. Gowd on Your Gartens, Marion
For many centuries, the harp has been the single instrument most identified with folk music in Ireland and Scotland. But the instrument often used today is the modern "Celtic" harp, a gut- or nylon-strung instrument that is closer in sound to the modern pedal harp than to the harp used in ancient traditions. Bill plays the wire-strung harp, or clarsach, used by Irish bards and harpers in the Scottish Highlands before 1800. The Scots song tune, "Gowd on Your Gartens, Marion," comes from the Skene manuscript (ca. 1615).
11. Cary Owen
This version of "Cary Owen" comes from Neil Gow's Complete Repository (Edinburgh; 1784, 1788). It is still known in Ireland as "Garryowen," from O'Farrell's Pocket Companion (ca. 1805-1808). Known today in and out of folk circles, it shows how deeply Scottish and Irish music entered the awareness of the entire English-speaking world in the 18th century. Tina has arranged it here for three recorders.
12. O'Farrell's Welcome to Limerick
Bagpipes, typically thought of as Scottish, are just as important to the Irish tradition. Irish pipes, somewhat smaller and quieter than the Scottish Highland (war)pipes, are known as the uilleann (ILL-un) or Union pipes. "O'Farrell's Welcome To Limerick" is a haunting slip jig (9/8) that appeared in print at the end of the 18th century in O'Farrell's Collection of National Irish Music for the Union Pipes. Philippe's laid-back version on the fiddle provides the basis of our arrangement.
13. Through the Wood, Laddie
William McGibbon was the acknowledged leader of the "Scots drawing room" style. In his variations on the Scottish air, "Through the Wood Laddie" (1742), he created a parlor piece for amateurs in the great houses of Scotland or among the London bourgeoisie. Tina's use of the viola da gamba highlights it as a solo instrument of the leisured classes.
14. Minstrel of MacDonald's
In the 17th century, the most striking and powerful form of Scottish music - the bagpipe pìobaireachd (PEE-brahk).was developed. Long, dramatic sets of variations on a basic tune were performed on Highland pipes at clan gatherings. The tunes started with a stately air, highly ornamented with bagpipe "cuts," followed by variations of increasing complexity. The style was later adopted by fiddlers. "The Minstrel of MacDonald's" is a fiddle pìobaireachd, played first by Bonnie on fiddle in a version from the collection of Patrick McDonald (1784), with harp accompaniment. Then the roles are reversed and Bonnie accompanies Bill on another version of the tune from the collection of Angus Fraser (ca. 1874).
15. Old Simon the King
"Old Simon the King" is another example of divisions on a ground. Several versions of "Old Simon the King" are found in Scotland; we use one published in London by John Walsh in The Division Flute (1707). At that time, "flute" meant recorder.
16. The Highland Laddie
A very cosmopolitan tune, "The Highland Laddie," is also known as "The Lass of Livingston" in Scotland, as "Cockleshells" in London in Playford's Apollo's Banquet and as "The High Caul Cap" in Ireland. We offer a short tour of versions starting with two from the collections of Neil Gow (Edinburgh, 1788); in the second Bonnie plays it first as a strathspey, then as a reel.
17. The Highland Laddie: variations
A set of elegant variations on "Highland Laddie" from the Bowie fiddle manuscript (Edinburgh, 1705). 18 A New Scotch Tune
Another tune popular in England, simply called "A New Scotch Tune" in Henry Playford's Apollo's Banquet (1690), was the song known as "Peggy I Must Love Thee" in Adam Craig's Scottish collection (1730).
19. Eilionóir a Rúin
This, our second version of "Aileen Aroon" with its original Gaelic title, was written down by Edward Bunting in the early 19th century from the playing of Irish harper Dennis Hempson. Hempson lived to the age of 112 and was the last harper to play in the ancient bardic style. Bill performs it on the wire harp used in that ancient tradition.
20. Meeting at Strathmore / Lumps of Pudding
"Strathmore," from Angus Fraser's A Collection of the Vocal Airs of the Highlands of Scotland (ca. 1874), reminded Bonnie of "Lumps of Pudding" which appears at the end of The Beggar's Opera. That tune is actually from the Welsh tradition, making our medley a composite from the entire Wales/England/Scotland land mass.
21. The White Cockade / Soldier's Joy
Two tunes that demonstrate the powerful links between America and Scotland are "The White Cockade" and "Soldier's Joy." Both appear in countless sources in both countries, including the First Book of Cotillions published by the brothers Carr in Philadelphia and Baltimore. The Scottish "White Cockade," was known by Americans at the time of the Revolution. "Soldier's Joy" is claimed by Northern and Southern folk traditions in America, and is played today in Scotland.
Notes by Scott Reiss, with crucial assistance from Bill Taylor, Philippe Varlet, and Bonnie Rideout